Tag Archives: Technology

Raindrops on Roses, and Whiskers on Kittens…

6 Nov

… EdTech and iPads, and Tools for the Teacher!

                        ….These are a few of my favorite things!

Two days into owning an iPad and I’ve become obsessed, so I figured I could share a few of my favorite things to kick off my “iPads for Education” sharing!

Here are five of my favorite FREE apps for Literacy… more to come soon!

1. Sparklefish — It’s like MadLibs or Wacky Web Tale but with the added feature of voice recording! First you pick a story from the provided choices, then you record the missing words (it prompts you to come up with words for the different parts of speech), then you listen to the story! Voila! Not only will your students be laughing at the story, but they will love hearing the sound of their voices as it plugs in the missing words!

2. Toontastic — Create your own animated cartoon with this fantastic app! Not only does it provide a quick review the “story arc” (i.e., setting, conflict, challenge, climax, and resolution) but it takes you step-by-step through each story element to help you pick (or create!) your perfect story! The best part is… you can record your own audio to narrate the story!

3. Poetry Creator & PoetryMagnetsRemember the old fridge poetry magnets? Well now you can build poems and sentences using virtual magnets! Verses Poetry gives you options for the types of words and the number that show up on the page (differentiation at its finest), but PoetryMagnets is filled with an endless supply of words and offers a much larger space for building your magnet masterpiece! (NOTE: For early primary students you can use Magnetic Alphabet, a simple magnet board with colorful magnets to manipulate and build words!)

4. StoryLines — This interactive game is like a game of “telephone,” but with pictures! Someone picks a phrase, sentence, or figure of speech. The second person illustrates it. The third person tries to guess the phrase, sentence, or figure of speech… and so it continues! The iPad is passed along around the group and what results is chain of silly illustrations and misinterpretations. This is a great tool for students to be creative, practice visualizing, and have fun!

5. Phonics Genius — This app is perfect for helping students recognize and distinguish words by sounds and their patterns. A menu of sound patterns include: long vowels, short vowels, variant vowels, blends, word endings, digraphs, dipthongs… you name it, it’s there! Each sound has a group of flashcards that students can flip through, with the specific sound highlighted in the word. Students can leave the sound on to listen to the word pronunciation, or they can turn down the volume on the iPad to practice for themselves!

What are your favorites?

The What, Why, and How of Graphic Novels.

28 Feb

After attending a presentation by Britt White from the Buffalo & Erie County Public Library, my mind has been trying to wrap my head around the idea of integrating graphic novels into my instruction. As a Reading Specialist, I am in constant contact with struggling readers, and according to Britt White, research has shown that graphic novels and comics, as literacy medium, is one way to motivate those struggling readers to read. I guess I fall in the category of people who wrongly assume all graphic novels are dark, scary, and filled with superheroes on a vengeance.

Britt provided us with a great list of grade-appropriate graphic novels that are actually fun and not-so-dark.

Here is a list sharing a few of the titles:

She also shared a great website for educators, students, and parents:  Toon Books.

Toon Books is a company I’ve heard of but never fully explored; it is an award-winning educational book publisher (an imprint of Candlewick Press) that provides a plethora of easy-to-read comics for emergent readers at three different levels. It also has a variety of comic-related activities on their website for the students to interact with and learn from. Who knew?!

I love the idea of students creating comics to show their understanding of a text or to write just for fun (e.g., using Make Beliefs Comix, Read.Write.Think Comic Creator, Strip Creator, Toon Books Cartoon Maker), but I never was truly comfortable in using graphic novels as instructional reading material. I’ve explored one or two printable graphic books through Scholastic to supplement my instruction, but never actually used them. I also just ordered a few historical-based graphic novels for the school book room because of the growing popularity among students, but again, haven’t yet used them. I am excited to integrate this new medium of “multi-source information fusion” in an attempt toward making my instruction and students more media literate. Let the exploration of 21st century literacy continue!

How do you use graphic novels in the classroom? 

Happy Teaching!

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